Horse neglect will not be tolerated
8 April 2016
Horse owners across the state must make sure they have sufficient feed in store for their horses in preparation for the cold months ahead or else make alternative arrangements such as selling or agisting their horses.
This warning comes after the recent distressing horse welfare case at Bulla, north of Melbourne in the past week and advice that inspectors are seeing increasing numbers of horse welfare complaints.
Victoria's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Charles Milne said horse owners need to ensure they always have sufficient water and fodder for the number and class of the animals that they keep.
"Mistreatment of animals is totally unacceptable. There can be no excuse for horse owners who do not care for their animals properly, even if they are faced with other challenges including drought," Dr Milne said.
There are serious penalties under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 including fines of up to $75,800 or 2 years jail, penalties can also include orders banning animal ownership for up to 10 years, or lifetime bans for repeat offenders.
"As a horse owner it is your responsibility to ensure regular supervision, supply of feed and water, appropriate parasite control and other health care. If this is not possible then other arrangements are required."
"If you're struggling to feed or care for your horses you are advised that you must actively seek alternative arrangements which might be to put them up for sale or to make arrangements for someone else to care them on their property."
"If agisting ensure you have a written contract in place that sets out responsibilities of the owner and the person who will be responsible for their care."
Dr Milne said that dry conditions are no excuse for the mistreatment of animals.
"Animal owners must accept that in times of drought horses, and other livestock, may have to be sold, have extra feed provided or alternative arrangements made, such as agistment," Dr Milne said.
"Owners also need to be aware that horses may succumb to the cold, wet, windy weather expected over the next few months especially if they are in poor condition, carrying worm burdens or aged."
"Those with a responsibility for the care of any animal must continue to ensure they are looked after properly and act immediately if their animal's welfare is compromised."
"The Department is working cooperatively with the RSPCA to help get the message out to horse owners to make the best decisions as early as possible."
The Government provides an annual grant of $1 million to support the animal cruelty investigation functions of the RSPCA. In addition the Government is providing $5 million over four years to the RSPCA to strengthen its inspectorate capacity to deal with illegal and non compliant domestic animal breeding establishments.
Acting CEO Jon McGregor said RSPCA Victoria appreciates the ongoing support of the Department and welcomes its input, along with that of other enforcement agencies and regulatory bodies, into the review being conducted of RSPCA Inspectorate operations and resourcing levels.
For more information on caring for horses please visit www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/horses. This site includes information about preparing your horses for winter and drought information.
Please report animal welfare concerns to the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Customer Service Centre on 136 186 or via the RSPCA on 03 9224 2222 or through the RSPCA website.
There are services available for horse owners who may be coping with stress or in crisis, including information on the department website for rural landowners at www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/drought.
In addition the Department of Health and Human Services Better Health Channel is available to provide quality assured health and medical information.
Categorised under: Agriculture,Pets